What Is RPA? More importantly, why should you care about this new technology? Those are the questions you’ll find answers to in this post.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging technology trend designed to increase automation. McKinsey & Co defines this trend in the following terms:
“RPA takes the robot out of the human. The average knowledge worker employed on a back-office process has a lot of repetitive, routine tasks that are dreary and uninteresting. RPA is a type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in carrying out a task within a process. It can do repetitive stuff more quickly, accurately, and tirelessly than humans, freeing them to do other tasks requiring human strengths such as emotional intelligence, reasoning, judgment, and interaction with the customer.”
That definition is interesting because it also points out the limitations of RPA, such as emotional intelligence. Gartner answers the “What is RPA?” question differently:
“Robotic process automation (RPA) is a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as “bots”) to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion. The result is that the bots can be used to mimic or emulate selected tasks (transaction steps) within an overall business or IT process. These may include manipulating data, passing data to and from different applications, triggering responses, or executing transactions. RPA uses a combination of user interface interaction and descriptor technologies. The scripts can overlay on one or more software applications.”
In practice, most companies tend to follow Gartner’s narrower definition. Automating entire business processes remains difficult and expensive. However, there are significant opportunities to automate select parts of processes and gain accordingly.
Merely defining the term will not help you very much. You need to see some examples of how this technology is used in the real world.
How Are Companies Using RPA Today?
To get your thinking started, here are a few examples showing how companies are implementing RPA. Note that each company will define it. Some might call these efforts automation, artificial intelligence or robotic process automation. The exact terminology is less important than the business goals achieved through this process. Drawing on AI Multiple’s RPA summary article, here are a few examples.
- ANZ Bank (Australia). The company achieved an 85% reduction in the effort (roughly equivalent to 400 employees) across various processes.
- Dell EMC (USA). By automating human resources and finance processes, the company achieved $2 million in annual savings.
- Telefonica O2 (UK). This telecommunications company optimized 15 back-office processes and reduced the need to hire more staff.
Now that you can see what is possible with robotic process automation let’s take a closer look at the details.
The Simple Way To Get Started With RPA Today
Do you need to wait for a fully developed AI solution to use RPA? Not necessarily. You can get started right now with VisualCron. Depending on your situation, there are a few ways to leverage VisualCron to achieve RPA
1 Get More Free Time For Robotic Process Automation Development
Pursuing an innovative project is difficult! That’s why so many organizations are slow to adopt machine learning. You might have just been asked to answer “What is RPA?” by your management this week and come back with some answers. There’s only one problem. You don’t have the time to investigate and experiment with new technology. You are overwhelmed with keeping up with existing responsibilities.
There is a simple solution to this kind of overwork situation. Leverage VisualCron to automate your recurring tasks. Think of it this way – if you can schedule five or six weekly assignments, you can free up several hours of work time each week. That means you will have more free time to brainstorm and develop your robotic process automation (RPA) ideas.
To get you started, use these prompts to help you identify Windows tasks that you can automate right now.
- Extract data from PDF files. You can extract data automatically from PDFs with VisualCron. That means no matter long hours of looking at data in PDFs and retyping the information into a database.
- Send files to third parties on time every time with FTP automation. You probably have customers and stakeholders that need regular updates every day. If you miss delivering one of these updates, you will face criticism! Your company might even incur late fees if a shipment or project is delayed. Fortunately, you can automate file transfers and file uploads to run on a regular schedule (e.g., send the customer list to the printer on Fridays at 11 pm).
- Streamline your graphic design. Your graphic designs are creative! They don’t want to spend time on the same tedious tasks like resizing images and cropping images to a set size week after week. If you need all of your images to be cropped, adjusted to a new format, and otherwise updated, use the power of VisualCron image automation to get that work done automatically.
Your next opportunity lies in leveraging VisualCron’s RPA features.
2) Leverage VisualCron’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Capabilities
The traditional approach to Windows task automation and scheduling required significant technical experience. You needed to choose a specific application like a SQL database and specify each step. With VisualCron’s Desktop Macro Task, you now have much more flexibility to automate a process involving multiple applications.
Here is a simple example from an administrative assistant who helps to book travel for employees. The assistant could use Desktop Macro Task to record the process steps. This could involve sending out a reminder on what receipts to submit, extracting key data points from employee expense claims, and producing monthly reports for managers. In this example, there is still some judgment involved to assess whether a given request is reasonable. However, the system automates most of the repetitive steps for you.
The best part is that VisualCron doesn’t require you to remember when to use these recorded tasks. You can use triggers to start the process. For example, when a user opens a specific file (e.g., “Employee Travel Tracker” spreadsheet), that step will trigger the rest of the automated process.
Want to bring robotic process automation to your company? You can get started right now by downloading a Visual Cron free trial. It is free to try for 45 days!